29 May 2022

Rare 17th Century views of Kilkenny city

Look back in time: Earliest known depictions of Kilkenny in the national collection

Kilkenny Kilkenny

Kilkenny Castle and City from Wind Gap Hill, c.1699. By artist Francis Place

Rare scenes of Kilkenny, drawn in the 1600s, can now be seen in the online catalogue of the National Gallery of Ireland.

The drawings are by Francis Place, whose ink and graphite drawings were to go on display at the National Gallery in January alongside a selection of works by JMW Turner - however the gallery has had to remain closed because of Covid regulations.

Art lovers, and those interested in the history of Kilkenny, can still enjoy the works, however, as the National Gallery has addded them to its online resources.

Francis Place (1647–1728), visited Ireland in 1698, and while he was here drew unique scenes in Drogheda, Dublin, Kilkenny and Waterford.
Place’s views are the earliest known depictions of Drogheda, Dublin, Kilkenny, and Waterford within the national collection.

“The precise detailing in Place’s prospects, encourages close inspection, with the aim of identifying what has changed, or indeed stayed the same, over time,” said Niamh MacNally, curator of the exhibition.

This fine collection of early drawings, offering a glimpse of late 17th Century Ireland, was purchased almost 50 years ago through the Gallery’s Shaw fund.
Francis Place was an English gentleman who trained in law but left that career when he left London during an outbreak of plague.

He had already discovered a gift for drawing and engraving and went on t o try oil painting, stoneware pottery glazing and manufacturing porcelain.
Although the National Gallery is currently closed to the public, a variety of online programmes ensure viewers can engage with the cancelled exhibition ‘Turner & Place: Landscapes in Light and Detail’ from their homes.

For 120 years, in the month of January, the annual exhibition of Turner watercolours delighted the Gallery’s visitors. This year, the collection was to be shown alongside the rare drawings by Francis Place.
See the collection on

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